According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens (13-17 years old) report they go online daily. So what do you do to protect your child from the dangers of something that’s such a part of their lives? Here are some tips for parenting in the Digital Age:
1.) Tweak Location and Privacy Settings
Keeping up with family members through GPS may give you peace of mind, but it’s important to limit your child’s location only to the people who absolutely need it. Making sure your kids have their location disabled when posting to social media is imperative to ensuring their safety. Many are unaware that the photos your child takes can have their exact location embedded in them as well, potentially leading predators directly to your child’s home or school. You can turn off geotagging for Android and Apple devices in the settings menu.
2.) Use Tools to Keep a Closer Eye on Data Usage
Whether you have a tablet-obsessed child, or a smartphone-addicted teen, you can monitor the way they use these devices. For example, Family Base by Verizon allows parents to take back family time by limiting access to calls, texts and data, blocking unwanted contacts, viewing and monitoring a child’s text and call history, setting filters to block access to inappropriate apps/websites and more. Although you can’t be everywhere all the time, apps like these can help you rest assured someone is always watching to keep them safe.
3.) Monitor Your Child’s Posts
If you can’t beat them, join them! Follow your kid on all social media platforms and keep up with key trends. While you may not have time to be an active user across all platforms, it is important that you monitor their activity from a user’s standpoint. This will help you look for any red flags. Unfortunately, what lands online today, stays online – forever. But your children may not think about the future consequences, so be sure to talk to them about this. Additionally, according to the Up to Speed podcast by Verizon, parents must learn to be digital role models. Children are far more likely to do what you do as opposed to what you say, so be sure your actions line up with your words.
One aspect that parents often miss out on is communication.
“Our number one tip is to talk to your kids,” says Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. “This is an ongoing conversation that will probably start as early as two or three years old and go all the way through until they are off to college.”
Talk to your child and see how they feel about social media. Create a social media contract outlining expectations and repercussions they may face if the contract is broken. Remember, communication is the key to trust!
While the internet and social media have greatly enhanced our lives, with great power comes great responsibility – which is why it’s important to start conversations early with your children.
About the author: Steve Van Dinter is Verizon’s PR Manager for the Great Lakes market. As a tech enthusiast and former tech reporter, he loves showing people how their lives can be made easier thanks to the use of new technologies.